I am an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Penn State University, Abington in the Psychological and Social Sciences Program. After receiving my Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 2012, I held an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Ripon College (2012-2014) and was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Whitman College (2014-2015).
My research explores health, gender, identity, and inequality through the lens of the body. More specifically, I am interested in how the body functions as a form of capital, how it intersects with other facets of inequality (gender, race, class, sexuality), and how it is shaped by culture and identity. Much of my research utilizes the framework of "bodily capital"--a multi-faceted concept including appearance, attractiveness, and physical ability that provides a way to understand why people invest time and money into their bodies, and what they expect to receive in return.
I have investigated how the fit-appearing physiques of personal trainers provide them with a degree of health and moral authority in their interactions with clients (published in Social Science & Medicine), and how both clients and personal trainers use “bodily capital” to negotiate gender and age status differences (published in Qualitative Sociology). I have also explored how appearance choices made after “coming out” influence the construction of gay and lesbian identities in a post-closet context (published in Symbolic Interaction).
Other publications have included co-editing a volume on the Sociology of Diagnosis in the Advances in Medical Sociology series, as well as a collaborative content analysis researching contemporary advice books to parents of gay and lesbian children (Journal of Family Issues).
Currently, my research involves a historical analysis of BMI categories, and a project interviewing pregnant and recently pregnant women about how the experience of putting on and trying to take off “baby weight” shapes their identities and social interactions.
Research Interests: Body/Embodiment; Health; Gender; Sexuality; Social Psychology; Inequality; Qualitative Methods.